Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

NASCAR is an American thing. It's not Formula One, but it's motor racing. Big, brash and bad for the brain. Those who find speed freaks with limited vocabularies and loud voices, unfunny and uninteresting, stop right there. Talladega Nights is not for you.

Ex-Saturday Night Live and Elf actor Will Ferrell has fans. It's hard to believe sometimes. Remember in Old School when he got rat arsed and ran naked through the streets of his alma mater? He does it again here - twice - except, thank God, keeps his underpants on.

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Ferrell and director Adam McKay are responsible for the script. They should be ashamed. It used to be considered bad manners to laugh at stupid people. Now you are encouraged, even invited, to do so. Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) is the NASCAR champion and as thick as two bricks. He has a trophy blonde wife (Leslie Bibb) and two horrible children. His dad (Gary Cole), an itinerant loser, drops by every 10 years to give him advice ("If you ain't first, you're last") and his best friend Cal (John C Reilly) is constantly whooping and doing the buddy-buddy dance just to make him feel good about himself. If he has a moron for a friend, he must be smart(er), right? Oh so not!

The plot suffers from anorexia of the imagination. A new French driver called Jean (Sacha Baron Cohen) appears on the circuit, and suddenly Ricky has competition. This foreign personage has panache and a man wife. Ricky and Cal take a bit of time coming to terms with the gayness. Being redneck, blue-collar burger munchers, they don't do homo. How could a driver as skilled as Jean be limp of wrist? Ricky is determined to wipe the track with him.

Alas - after the crash, Ricky believes he's paralysed from the waist down, when actually he's dysfunctional from the neck up. He is sacked from his race team, loses his wife to Cal, moves in with mom (Jane Lynch) and gets a job delivering pizzas. You shouldn't care and you don't, but there's still 40 minutes to go. What can possibly happen to this unemployable oaf but bankruptcy, the gutter and hobo hell? Wrong. This is America. Where there's a Will, there's a second chance.

"Ricky Bobby's back!" The cry goes out. And the film falls down.

The humour is so basic, it doesn't need a spell check. Talladega Nights makes Anchorman look like a Billy Wilder movie. Good actors like Michael Clarke Duncan and Amy Adams try hard, but are washed away in the flood of mediocrity.

Who won the race? Who wants to know?

Reviewed on: 16 Sep 2006
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Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby packshot
A NASCAR comedy of fast cars and stupid drivers.
Amazon link

Director: Adam McKay

Writer: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay

Starring: Will Ferrell, John C Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gary Cole, Jane Lynch, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, Amy Adams, Greg Germann

Year: 2006

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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